The Library of the South Asia Institute in co-operation with Heidelberg University Library is in charge of the German regional focus collection on South Asia. Starting from 2005 the collection was partly financed by the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG) and its Special Research Collection Programme until the end of 2015. Collection work continues in the context of the DFG funded project “CrossAsia – Scientific Information Service Asia” (2016-2018).
The Library of the South Asia Institute started its collection in 1960, two years prior to the actual founding of the Institute. The core of the today approximately 300,000 volumes was formed by the 7,500 volumes of the libraries of the two renowned Indologists Wilhelm Geiger and Max Walleser. Every year about 5,000 new volumes are added. Upto 1995 the research area of the Institute included Southeast Asia, thus books on this region are part of the holdings.
The present scope of collection is limited to South Asia, i.e. Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
The main focus is on humanities and social sciences. Technology, medicine, economics, agrarian sciences as well as natural sciences are collected by the German National Libraries of Science and Technology, Economics and Medicine (TIB – Leibniz Information Centre for Science and Technology in Hannover, ZB Med – Information Centre for Life Sciences in Köln, ZBW – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics in Kiel). However, titles on indigenous cultural and historical developments (e.g. Ayurveda) fall into the scope of the South Asia Institute’s library. The majority of publications are in English, but there is a considerable number of books in South Asian languages, mostly on literature and linguistics. This collection is especially rich in books in Bengali, Hindi, Nepali, Sanskrit, Tamil und Urdu. Other South Asian languages are also part of the collection.